Governor Doug Ducey last Thursday announced his plan to ensure that Arizona’s teachers receive a 20 percent pay raise by the start of the 2020 school year. His proposal would raise the average annual teacher salary from $48,372 to $58,130.
It’s the right plan at the right time. Teachers have earned it, a strong economy makes it possible, and the state’s job creators are united in their support for it.
As the son of two public school teachers, the dad of three girls in public schools, and as a chamber of commerce leader, I say bravo!
THE GOVERNOR’S PLAN: 20 PERCENT BY 2020
The governor proposes that the FY 2019 budget package currently under negotiation with the Legislature contain a 9 percent increase for teacher pay, along with another 5 percent in FY 2020 and again in FY 2021. Combined with the last budget deal’s 1 percent uptick, it means teachers would see a 20 percent increase by the 2020-21 school year.
The governor’s plan is permanent, ongoing, and in the base. That means it’s not a one-time bonus, and the funding will be adjusted for inflation in future budget years.
And this isn’t robbing from Peter to pay Paul. Gov. Ducey is still proposing to restore funding to District and Charter Additional Assistance over the next five years, starting with $100 million in the FY 19 budget. That means school districts and charter operators can still meet capital needs without dipping into their operational budgets.
This teacher pay plan is smart and responsible, and it’s made possible by a thriving economy. Thanks to increased state revenues, shrinking social service caseloads, and foregoing previously announced gubernatorial budget requests, the resources are available to adopt a budget that achieves a well-deserved teacher pay raise.
THE TRIFECTA: ECONOMY, EDUCATION, REPUTATION
This 20 percent by 2020 plan; the restoration of Additional Assistance; the 2015 passage of Proposition 123, which increased allocations to schools from the state land trust; and this legislative session’s already adopted extension of Proposition 301’s .6 percent sales tax to 2041 and the redirection of over $60 million from debt payments into classrooms, has reset the teacher pay conversation in Arizona.
And we have solidified the cornerstones of the state’s competitiveness: our economy, our education system, and our reputation.
Our economy is sizzling. We’re one of the fastest growing states for population and projected job growth. Maricopa County is the nation’s fastest growing county. Companies continue to announce major investments here, and the economic development pipeline is flowing with new deals in the works.
The growing economy means more state revenues, which means more available resources to education, specifically teachers’ paychecks.
Our education system deserves the investment. Thanks to our teachers, our students are at the top of the list for improving results.
Results from the 2017 edition of the National Assessment of Educational Progress (NAEP), also known as the Nation’s Report Card, show Arizona students largely sustained the big gains they made on the 2015 edition of the test, which were among the best of the country.
Such positive educational outcomes and major investments in our teachers only enhance Arizona’s reputation.
A growing economy, big educational gains, and 20 percent teacher pay increases are the stuff of positive headlines that cause the rest of the country to take notice that Arizona is doing something special.
THE TIME IS NOW
We’re in a critical phase. Budget negotiations over the next state budget are headed in to crunch time.
Job creators across the state are urging the Legislature to support the governor’s plan. We’re enthusiastic, we’re resolute, and we’re united.
The teacher pay plan is a strong one, it’s timely, and it addresses the state’s top concern. Its passage is essential to the state’s continued success story. Let’s get it done.